Mountains are Living Things - A Wild Sheep Chase Drop Cap

I ended up choosing Haruki Murakami's book A Wild Sheep Chase for my first foray into creating a letterform. I finished reading it a few months ago, and was instantly hooked by the detail in the scenes, the crazy characters, and the mystical things that happen amidst all of the seemingly normal stuff going on.

To start, I thought it'd be nice to recap for myself what actually happened in the book. So I wrote my own synopsis to remind myself of the turn of events.

The Basic Plot, Without Spoilers

A small ad agency art exec loses his direction in life, gets involved with kingpin of underground crime syndicate of Japan (a la Yakuza), for printing an image of a sheep in an ad. Finds out about a sheep that has magical powers that the kingpin wants to cure his sickness, and has to go searching for it in the farmlands across Hokkaido. Strangely, the sheep he’s looking for was in the ad he used, which came from a postcard sent to him by a good friend. The guy meets a girl with ‘nice ears,’ and takes her with him. They find a crazy sheep professor in a small town, who met the sheep and got 'controlled' by it - but let it go. Now he’s empty inside...

The guy still needs to find the sheep, or else he’ll be killed when he returns to Tokyo. He finds a cabin in the wilderness near where the sheep is supposed to be. Supposedly he gets a bit of cabin fever, starts seeing things - including his long lost friend who sent the postcard...

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There is so much symbolism and things I knew I could play on with this book. I started to take out a few good pieces to get me thinking.

Some Interesting Passages

The world goes on without me. People cross streets through no intervention on my part, sharpen pencils, move fifty yards a minute west to east, fill coffee lounges with music that’s refined into nothingness.

The “world”–the word always makes me think of a tortoise and elephants tirelessly supporting a gigantic disc. The elephants have no knowledge of the tortoise’s role, the tortoise unable to see what the elephants are doing. And neither is the least aware of the world on their backs.

Only the cicadas kept at it. They and the trees in the garden rustling their leaves in the near-dusk breeze. The house itself was agonizingly quiet. As if spores of death were drifting about in some unpreventable contagion. I tried to picture the pasture in the Boss’s head. A pasture forlorn and forsaken, the grass withered, the sheep all gone.

“Mountains are living things,” wrote the author in his preface to the book. “Mountains, according to the angle of view, the season, the time of day, the beholder’s frame of mind, or any one thing, can effectively change their appearance. Thus, it is essential to recognize that we can never know more than one side, one small aspect of a mountain.”

There’s nothing worse than waking up in total darkness. It’s like having to go back and live life all over from the beginning. When I first opened my eyes, it was as if I were living someone else’s life. After an extremely long time, this began to match up with my own life. A curious overlap this, my own life as someone else’s. It was improbable that such a person as myself could even be living.

 

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